CRIM 460: Surveillance and Privacy in Contemporary Society

CRIM 460-001: Surv/Privacy-Contemp Society
(Fall 2022)

01:30 PM to 02:45 PM MW

Horizon Hall - Hybrid

Section Information for Fall 2022

George Mason University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of Criminology, Law, and Society

CRIM 460 - 001 – Fall 2022

Surveillance and Privacy in Contemporary Society

Course Syllabus


Christopher I Warner




Class Schedule

Monday 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm Horizon Hall (HH) Room 1010

Wednesday 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm ONLINE

Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Description




Course Learning Objectives

The goals of this course are to develop an understanding of surveillance and privacy and the laws that regulate it. Surveillance and privacy are issues that are part of our everyday life, whether through our uses of phones or the internet and computers, or cameras, or our day to day travels through our streets. The use of the laws that regulate our rights of privacy are important in all areas of law enforcement and law itself. An understanding of Constitutional laws, and Supreme Court decisions relating to privacy and surveillance will be developed, as well as the use of those laws in law enforcement activities. 


Reading Material

Privacy, Law Enforcement, and National Security by Daniel J. Solove and Paul M. Schwartz. 3rd Edition, Wolters Kluwer 2021 ISBN: 9781543832617. Older editions are available, and can be used. This is required reading.



Course Policies


As long as the electronic devices are quiet, and are being used to benefit the discussion, or for note-taking, you're welcome to use them.


Accommodations for students with disabilities:

Should you need accommodations due to a disability or another reason, please consult the Office of Disability Services at (703) 993-2474 or, and/or inform me.


George Mason University has an Honor Code, which requires all members of this
community to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity.
Cheating, plagiarism, lying, and stealing are all prohibited. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as:
1. Presenting as one's own the words, the work, or the opinions of someone else
without proper acknowledgment.
2. Borrowing the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, or the pattern of
thought of someone else without proper acknowledgment.
All violations of the Honor Code will be reported to the Office of Academic
Integrity (


Students are responsible for verifying their enrollment in this class.
Schedule adjustments should be made by the deadlines published in the Schedule of
Classes. (Deadlines each semester are published in the Schedule of Classes available
from the Registrar's Website at )
Last Day to Add is August 29, 2022
Last Day to Drop with 100% tuition refund is September 6, 2022

Last Day to Drop with 50% tuition refund is September 13, 2022

After the last day to drop a class, withdrawing from this class requires the approval of the
dean and is only allowed for nonacademic reasons.
Undergraduate students may choose to exercise a selective withdrawal. See the Schedule
of Classes for selective withdrawal procedures.


Covid Health Check


All students taking courses with a face-to-face component are required to follow the university’s public health and safety precautions and procedures outlined on the university

Safe Return to Campus webpage ( Similarly, all students in face-to-face and hybrid courses must also complete the Mason COVID Health Check daily, seven days a week. The COVID Health Check system uses a color code system and students will receive either a Green, Yellow, or Red email response. Only students who receive a “green” notification are permitted to attend courses with a face-to-face component. If you suspect that you are sick or have been directed to self-isolate, please quarantine or get testing. Faculty are allowed to ask you to show them that you have received a Green email and are thereby permitted to be in class.



Grades will be determined based on three components:


Research Papers (30%): Papers will be assigned throughout the course. These papers will be relatively short and primarily be based on internet searches to find facts, and a quick presentation of the results (in writing and sometimes verbally in class).


Midterm Exam (30%): An in-person exam based on all materials covered in class and in the assigned reading (up until that point), including but not limited to class discussions, readings, and guest lectures.


Final Exam (40%): An in-person exam based on all the materials covered in class and assigned readings since the beginning of the semester.


Grading Scale:

A+: 97-100

A: 94-96

A-: 90-93

B+: 87-89

B: 84-86

B-: 80-83

C+: 77-79

C: 74-76

C-: 70-73


D: 65-69

F: 0-64

Final Grades: GMU requires instructors to submit final grades within two days of the final exam, which does not leave anytime to accept additional work to raise an individual grade.


Course Schedule: Please note that the course schedule detailed below is subject to change. Reading can be assigned outside of the syllabus. Please check your GMU e-mail account regularly for course updates and reading materials. All assigned reading is subject to testing.




8-22-22 in person Introduction and overview.


8-24-22 online The legal history of due process and the Constitution. Origin of the Supreme Court. How the court works. Origin of the 4th amendment.


8-29-22 in person. 4th and 14th Amendments. Growth of the 4th amendment and addition of the 14th amendment.


8-31-22 online 4th and 14th Amendments continued. Court cases that changed the amendments.


9-5-22 Labor Day Off


9-7-22 online Search and seizure. What rights do the Law Enforcement Officers and Agents have, and what rights do the citizens have.


9-12-22 in person Search and seizure. What rights do the Law Enforcement Officers and Agents have, and what rights do the citizens have, continued.


9-14-22 online Electronic Surveillance. Title III


9-19-22 in person Title III continued.


9-21-22 online The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA)

Microsoft v. US


9-26-22 in person Trackers and Beacons US v Knotts, US v Karo, US v Jones


9-28-22 online Public, Private, and Government Surveillance Cameras and the Use of new technology, One party consent and all party consent.


10-3-22 in person Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)


10-5-22 online The Patriot Act


10-10-22 Fall Break


10-11-22 Tuesday in person The Patriot Act (cont)


10-12-22 online Catch-up. Midterm review


10-17-22 in person Midterm Test


10-19-22 online First Amendment – Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition


10-24-22 in person Second Amendment


10-26-22 online Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) 1978 and The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act CALEA (1994)


10-31-22 in person National security and Intelligence


11-2-22 online The FBI


11-7-22 in person The Intelligence Community


11-9-22 online NSA Surveillance - Metadata


11-14-22 in person Civil Liberties and Privacy Around the World. How the world legislates privacy. Spying on journalists


11-16-22 online Covid 19 and health care


11-21-22 in person Covid 19 and health care (cont)


11-23-22 to 11-27-22 Thanksgiving Off


11-28-22 Internet Surveillance and Privacy.


11-30-22 online Data Breaches. Ransomware Final Test Review


TBD Final Exam









View 1 Other Section of this Course in this Semester »


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Philosophical perspectives, historical context, technological developments, and institutional changes that surround controversies about privacy and surveillance in contemporary society. Explores public and private institutions conducting surveillance, how they calculate and manage risk, and legal constraints on surveillance activities. Equivalent to GOVT 460.
Recommended Prerequisite: CRIM 100
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.